Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
1Now, as they were approaching Jerusalem they arrived at the place of the stables # 21:1 Or “Bethphage,” which in Aramaic means “the house of stables.” Transliterated into Greek it means “the house of unripe figs.” near the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead, saying, 2“As soon as you enter the village, you will find a donkey tethered along with her young colt. Untie them both and bring them to me. 3And if anyone stops you and asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just tell them, ‘The Lord of All needs them,’ and he will let you take them.”
4All of this happened to fulfill the prophecy:
5Tell Zion’s daughter:
“Look, your King arrives!
He’s coming to you humbly,
sitting on a donkey, riding on a donkey’s colt.” # 21:5 See Zech. 9:9. Kings rode on horses, not donkeys. He chose the young colt as a symbol of humility and gentleness.
6So the two disciples went on ahead and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and her colt to him and placed their cloaks and prayer shawls on the colt, and Jesus rode on it.
8Then an exceptionally large crowd gathered and carpeted the road before him with their cloaks and prayer shawls. # 21:8 See 2 Kings 9:13. Others cut down branches from trees to spread in his path. 9Jesus rode in the center of the procession—crowds going before him and crowds coming behind him, and they all shouted, “Bring the victory, Lord, # 21:9 Or “Hosanna,” an Aramaic word that means “O, save (bring the victory), Lord!” The crowds were recognizing Jesus as Yahweh’s Messiah. By shouting out, “Son of David,” they were clearly expecting Jesus to immediately overthrow the Roman oppression and set the nation free. Many want victory before the cross, but true victory comes after resurrection! Son of David! He is the blessed one sent from the Lord Yahweh! # 21:9 As translated from the Aramaic. See Ps. 118:25–26. We celebrate with praises to God in the highest!”
10As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people went wild with excitement—the entire city was thrown into an uproar! # 21:10 Or “The city was shaken [like with an earthquake]!” 11Some asked, “Who is this man?” And the crowds shouted back, “This is Jesus! He’s the prophet from Nazareth # 21:11 The Hebrew word Nazara (Nazareth) can be translated “Branch” or “Victorious One.” They were shouting, “This is Jesus, the Victorious One of Galilee!” of Galilee!”
Jesus in the Temple
12Upon entering Jerusalem Jesus went directly into the temple area and drove away all the merchants who were buying and selling their goods. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stands of those selling doves. # 21:12 The revered theologian and historian Jerome was the translator of the Bible into Latin. He also wrote a commentary on Matthew, which includes a fascinating thought about Jesus overturning the tables. Jerome writes, “For a certain fiery and starry light shone from his eyes, and the majesty of God gleamed in his face.” 13And he said to them, “My dwelling place will be known as a house of prayer, but you have made it into a hangout for thieves!” # 21:13 See Isa. 56:5–7; Jer. 7:11.
14Then the blind and the crippled came into the temple courts, and Jesus healed them all. And the children circled around him shouting out, “Blessings and praises to the Son of David!”
15But when the chief priests and religious scholars heard the children shouting and saw all the wonderful miracles of healing, they were furious. # 21:15 The Aramaic is “it seemed evil to them.” 16They said to Jesus, “Don’t you hear what these children are saying? This is not right!”
Jesus answered, “Yes, I hear them. But have you never read the Scripture, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” # 21:16 See Ps. 8:2. The Greek text quoting from Ps. 8 does not agree with either the Hebrew text, the Septuagint, or the Aramaic, but seems to line up with a version found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. You might say Jesus paraphrased the Scriptures to speak to his generation.
17Jesus then left at once for the nearby village of Bethany, where he spent the night. # 21:17 The Hebrew Matthew adds, “There he was explaining the kingdom of God.”
18While walking back into the city the next morning, he got hungry. 19He noticed a lone fig tree by the side of the path and walked over to see if there was any fruit on it, but there was none—he found only leaves. So he spoke to the fig tree and said, “You will be barren and will never bear fruit again!” Instantly the fig tree # 21:19 The fig tree is first mentioned in Gen. 3:7, with its leaves being a “covering” for fallen Adam and Eve to hide behind. It is connected to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and became a hiding place for Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus. Many also equate the fig tree as being a symbol of Israel. shriveled up right in front of their eyes!
20Astonished, his disciples asked, “How did you make this fig tree instantly wither and die?”
21Jesus replied, “Listen to the truth. If you do not doubt God’s power and speak out of faith’s fullness, you can also speak to a tree and it will wither away. Even more than that, you could say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and be thrown into the sea’ and it will be done. # 21:21 The mountain and the sea are both metaphors. Mountains speak of kingdoms, and the sea represents the nations (e.g., “sea of humanity”). Faith brings the reality of the kingdom realm into the nations. 22Everything you pray for with the fullness of faith you will receive!” # 21:22 Jesus taught his disciples that if faith’s fullness lived in them, they could speak to the physical creation around them and it would respond. Faith unlocks great authority for the believer.
The Authority of Jesus
23After this Jesus went into the temple courts and taught the people. The leading priests and Jewish elders approached him and interrupted him and asked, “By what power # 21:23 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. The Greek is “authority.” See also vv. 24 and 27. do you do these things, and who granted you the authority to teach here?”
24Jesus answered them, “I too have a question to ask you. If you can answer this question, then I will tell you by what power I do these things. 25Where did John’s authority to baptize come from? From heaven or from people?”
26They stepped away and debated among themselves, saying, “How should we answer this? If we say from heaven, he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you respond to John and believe what he said?’ But if we deny that God gave John his authority, we’ll be mobbed by the people, for they’re convinced that John was God’s prophet.”
27So they finally answered, “We don’t know.”
“Then neither will I tell you from where my power comes to do these things!” he replied.
The Parable of Two Sons
28Jesus said to his critics, # 21:28 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. “Tell me what you think of this parable:
“There once was a man with two sons. The father came to the first and said, ‘Son, I want you to go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29The son replied, ‘I’d rather not.’ But afterward, he deeply regretted what he said to his father, changed his mind, and decided to go to the vineyard. 30The father approached the second son and said the same thing to him. The son replied, ‘Father, I will go and do as you said.’ But he never did—he didn’t go to the vineyard. 31Tell me now, which of these two sons did the will of his father?”
They answered him, “The first one.”
Jesus said, “You’re right. For many sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes are going into God’s kingdom realm ahead of you! 32John came to show you the path of righteousness, # 21:32 The Aramaic is “the way of goodness.” yet the despised and outcasts believed in him, but you did not. When you saw them turn, you neither repented of your ways nor believed his words.”
The Parable of the Rejected Son
33“Pay close attention to this parable,” Jesus said. “There once was an honorable man who planted a vineyard. # 21:33 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. The Greek is “landowner.” See Isa. 5:1–7. He built a fence around it, # 21:33 The Aramaic can be translated “He planted a vineyard by a stream.” dug out a pit for pressing the grapes, and erected a watchtower. Afterward he leased the land to tenant farmers and then went a distance away. 34At harvest time he sent his servants to the tenants to collect the portion that was due him as the lord of the vineyard. 35But the tenants seized his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. # 21:35 The obvious meaning of the parable is this: God is the landowner, the servants he sends are God’s prophets, and the son is Jesus Christ. 36So the landowner sent other servants, even more than at first, but they were mistreated the same way. 37Finally, he sent his own son to them, and he said to himself, ‘Perhaps with my own son standing before them they will be ashamed of what they’ve done.’ # 21:37 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “They will respect my son.” 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and then we can have his inheritance!’ 39So they seized him, took him outside the vineyard, and murdered him.
40“You tell me, when the lord of the vineyard comes, what do you think he will do to those tenants?”
41They answered, “He will bring a horrible death to those who did this evil and he will completely destroy them. Then he’ll lease his vineyard to different tenants who will be faithful to give him the portion he deserves.”
42Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read the Scripture that says:
The very stone the builder rejected as flawed
has now become the most important
cornerstone. # 21:42 See Ps. 118:22–23. Or “capstone of the arch” or “keystone.” This is an obvious metaphor of Jesus Christ. He is a Stone that many will stumble over, and a Stone that will fall upon the unbeliever. This was the Lord’s plan # 21:42 The Aramaic and the Hebrew Matthew read “This came from the presence of [next to] Lord Yahweh and is a marvel in our eyes.” —
isn’t it marvelous to behold?
43“This is why I say to you that the kingdom realm of God will be taken from you and given to a people # 21:43 Or “nation.” The Hebrew Matthew and Aramaic can be translated “gentiles.” This is a prophecy of the church being given access to God’s kingdom realm through faith in Jesus Christ. who will bear its fruit. 44The one who comes against this stone # 21:44 Or “falls upon this stone.” Some manuscripts do not include v. 44. The Hebrew Matthew does not have the last clause of v. 44. will be broken, but the one on whom it falls will be pulverized!” # 21:44 See Isa. 8:14–15; Dan. 2:34–35.
45When the leading priests and the Pharisees realized that the parable was referring to them, they were 46outraged and wanted to arrest him at once. But they were afraid of the reaction of the crowds, because the people considered him to be a prophet.